GLAHA:54087/a, Fraget, ca.1850, ink-stand, silver

Political movements were also instrumental in other types of migrations. The ink-stand presented above, a fascinating piece of silverware supporting two slightly radioactive uranium glass containers, belonged to American-born artist James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) whose ancestors migrated to America from Scotland. It came to the Hunterian as part of a collection of over 350 pieces of flatware and cutlery from the Whistler Estate but was made in Warsaw in the workshop of Joseph Fraget – a businessman born in France.

The ink-stand was created a few decades after Kieślowski was born. At the time of its creation, Warsaw was a centre of the Polish Kingdom established in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna on the part of the land that was previously annexed by Prussia. It was reigned by the Tsar Alexander I  who was also given the title of the King of Poland. His politics attracted many foreigners to come and build their companies and lives in Warsaw.

GLAHA:54087/a, Fraget, ca.1850, ink-stand, silver (detail)

Fraget company was founded in 1824 by two French businessmen, the brothers Alphonse and Joseph (in Polish Józef, 1797-1867) Fraget. In 1845 Alphonse left the company in hands of his brother and returned to France. Between 1847 and 1849 Joseph travelled around Europe where he learned about the new technique of electroplating and brought the invention and its teacher with him to Warsaw where he refurbished the factory. The new technology of covering cheaper metal with silver became very popular and silver-plated objects produced by Fraget quickly became well known all over the world.

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